How to be a Successful Pre-Health Science Student

Pre-health Science Biology is the single most popular major for students entering the college each year, and the vast majority of our students who apply to health-related professional or graduate programs are accepted. However, while the faculty want every student to be successful and will help you any way that they can to achieve your educational goals, you need to realize that only about one in four of the students who begin the program as freshmen, make it to the point in their junior year when they apply to professional/graduate school.

A bachelor’s degree in Biology, like that in any other science discipline, should be viewed as a “stepping stone” to an advanced degree. In other words, a bachelor’s degree in a science will not place you in the market for a well paying job upon graduation. Therefore, students who recognize that they are not making progress toward being a successful applicant to professional/graduate school, or are so advised by their academic advisor, should strongly consider changing their major prior to the Fall semester of their junior year. A change of major prior to the start of the junior normally affords adequate time to graduate within four years of entering the college.

Academic Progress

In terms of assessing your academic progress, remember, the average cumulative and science GPA of students accepted to medical school is around a 3.70. You don’t have to earn all “A”s in your courses, but you need all “A”s and “B”s, with more “A”s than “B”s. A grade of “C” or “W” in one science course probably won’t eliminate you from consideration as an applicant to medical school, but it won’t enhance your candidacy either.
Also bear in mind that the science courses you take in your first year are introductory level courses. If you fail to earn “A”s and “B”s in those courses, your chances of doing better in more advanced courses are
slim at best.

The Profile of Successful and Unsuccessful Students

Those students who are ultimately successful in terms of gaining acceptance to the professional or graduate school of their choice possess multiple common characteristics, as do those that are not successful.
The successful students typically enter the college with an outstanding academic record in high school, and possess excellent standardized test-taking skills as evidenced by their performance on the ACT or SAT. Successful students also demonstrate a high level of motivation and a good work ethic. Simply put, successful students are willing to make whatever level of effort is required for them to be successful. They study between 20 and 40 hours each week, rarely if ever stay out late on a school night, and never miss class. In addition, they tend to sit close to the front of the classroom, are consistently attentive in class, and frequently ask and answer questions. Lastly, successful students study with the objective of learning the material, not “cramming” the material the night before the exam.

Those students destined to be unsuccessful frequently enter the college unprepared to begin the normal sequence of science and math courses listed below. Unsuccessful students typically are not willing to make the level of effort required for them to be successful pre-professional students. They demonstrate a disconnect between what they ultimately want to achieve, and what it will take for them to get there. These students tend to sit at or near the back of a classroom, are not particularly attentive, and almost never ask or answer questions. They study no more than 10 hours a week, party on school nights, and miss class. They “study” by cramming material the night before the exam, thus, even if they earn a good
grade on an exam, they fail to retain the material for future courses.

Attitude and Conduct of Pre-Professional Students

The objective of the pre-professional program at Spring Hill College is to prepare you for a postgraduate education, not only in terms of presenting subject matter that you will be expected to know, but also with regard to the expectations and demands that will be placed on you concerning your attitude and conduct. All students at Spring Hill College are expected to be polite and courteous to their instructors and classmates, arrive to class on time and remain in their seat until class is dismissed, and turn cell phones and pagers off before entering the classroom building.